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2 Washington State Ferry captains injured by laser strike

SEATTLE -- Two captains aboard a Washington state ferry were injured Thursday night when State Patrol investigators say two men pointed a laser at the wheelhouses as the vessel was approaching the Clinton Ferry Terminal.

"(The Captains) said they were both hit with a blue-ish light and it caused a lot of discomfort," said Washington State Ferries Port Captain Jay Mooney.

Investigators said two men in their twenties, who were aboard the Kitsap that was heading eastbound to the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal, shined a blue laser at Tokitae for about a minute.

The captains were in wheelhouses on opposite ends of the 350-foot boat when they were hit. Mooney said the chief mate, who was piloting the vessel, got hit first.

"He got the brunt of the laser," said Mooney. "He does have some Injuries. He does have third-degree burns on his eyelid and his vision is still not quite back at 100 percent."

The Tokitae was not far from the dock and made it safely back to land as Washington State Patrol started its investigation on the Kitsap. The trooper knew who shined the laser because a deck hand saw the men with it earlier.

"(The suspect) said it was a new toy and he was shining it at the water and didn't mean to shine it at the vessel," said WSP Sgt. Tina Martin.

The same night the captains were injured a motorcyclist on Whidbey Island, who was traveling to the ferry terminal, was hit from behind with a blue laser.

"He thought it was law enforcement so he pulled over and a car passed him and he was shined with a laser as well," Mooney said.

This kind of incident is now a first for the Washington State Ferries.

"It's something now that we obviously have to live with and look for moving forward," Mooney said.

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